Access to cheap electricity is the basic necessity of people and is one of major catalysts for the growth of any country. For a developing country like India, it is not only required for improving standard of living but also to support the economic activities in the country.
As stated under Electricity Act 2003, the central and state governments have joint responsibility of providing electricity to rural areas. The electricity act paved way for the formation of National Electricity Policy in 2006, which has rural electrification as a core objective.
Policies and Initiatives
The incumbent governments have been making efforts for increasing reach of rural electrification through various schemes like Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, (RGGVY), Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) etc. RGGVY was the first scheme launched for rural electrification in 2005 which was later subsumed by DDUGJY (started in December 2014).
Currently the target of the government is to achieve 100% village electrification by May 2018.
The latest initiative being taken is Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, which was launched on September. 25, 2017. The scheme aims at providing last mile electricity connectivity for all rural and urban households (estimated over 4 crore).
Under the scheme, government will provide free electricity to all households identified under Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data 2011.
Details of the scheme
For a geographically and socially diverse country like India, providing electricity to all has its own set of challenges.
Many poor households don't have the capacity to pay for the connection charges (about Rs. 2000-3000). Even if provided the connection, the quality and durability of electricity remains questionable, with electricity being available only for a few hours daily or worse weekly. This discourages people to make any efforts from their part.
Also some of the government schemes consider a village to be electrified if it satisfies the scheme criteria, which need not be electrification of each household. According to a government data 73% of the 18k odd villages identified for electrification in 2015 have power supply but ironically only 8% of these villages have all their households electrified.
Electrification will lead to an improved quality of life with access to better connectivity, health and education services. The efficiency and development scope of all economic activities is dependent on it. With approximately 68% of Indian population living in rural areas, the need for rural electrification becomes all the more necessary.
Despite focus and concentrated efforts, about 1% of the villages in India and 25% of the rural households in the country still doesn’t have access to electricity. A planned synergy between central government, state governments, institutions and companies is necessary to realize the set targets for rural electrifications.